Overtaking Diversification in Remote Central Australia: Strategies for Protecting Indigenous Culture from the Emerging Telecommunication Highway
Historically, indigenous communities provide an attractive target for outside initiatives — for organizations and individuals. A central Australian indigenous media organization, PY Media (Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Media) traces one such history, the communities' experience on the long winding corridor of first contact, invasion, organization through missionaries, the disorder of the missionaries' departure and the subsequent impact of government, which assumed protective responsibilities. The situation on these Lands remains unsettled. Anangu (the central desert Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Ngaanyatjatjara people) continue to negotiate an uncertain future. Wonderful possibilities exist for the future of the Pitjantjatjara Lands if the people manage to negotiate successfully their emergence in the nation, their role in the global community. The more recent genesis of PY Media, founded in the 1980s to provide telecommunication opportunities for the people of its region, builds a portrait of the porous boundaries shrinking the time and space borders separating cultures. As a model of diversification, PY Media functions as a shifting consortium comprised of a group of committed outsiders and certain self-selected and highly interested families within the community. Over the past five years, that group has expanded on both ends. It now embraces larger numbers of Anangu, and representatives of government and the private sector. An examination of inflow and outflow demands major consideration of the conduit itself. Information and knowledge operate differently in different contexts. At the core, the interplay of diversification depends on the formulation of the common ground — on how the respective parties negotiate a mutual knowledge of very different time and space systems. To support its argument, this paper will use those very different time and space systems as the common denominator for examining cultural difference, its influence and endurance on the emerging information highways.
Keywords: Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Media Organization, Broadband Information Highways, Cultural Inflow and Outflow, Diversification, Community Elders and Outsiders
Dr. David I. Tafler
Associate Professor and Department Head, Communication Department, Muhlenberg College